(UPDATED — 1:28 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines — Indigenous people’s groups in Mindanao have denounced the January 28 killing of another Lumad in Arakan, Cotabato, saying the death of of 30-year-old Ricky Olado was the sixth in the town in the last four months.
“(Kami) ay mariing kumukondena sa walang patid na patayan sa aming hanay. Sa munisipyo ng Arakan, North Cotabato lamang, anim katao na ang namatay simula pa noong Oktubre 2017 hanggang sa buwan ng Enero ng kasalukuyang taon. Karamihan sa mga ito ay Lumad,” 26 members of the Independent Indigenous People’s Voice led by IIPV peace panel chair Timuay Leticio Datuwata and spokesperson Datu Ayag Quiambao said in a recent statement.
[We are condemning in the strongest terms the endless killings in our ranks. In Arakan, North Cotabato alone, six people had already died from October 2017 to January of this year. Most of them were Lumads.]
Among the Lumads in Arakan, who like Olado, were allegedly killed by suspected military agents and communist rebels were: Dondon Bartolaba, Edgar Arania, Toto Lamana, Tommy Agyaman, and Michael Locario, according to IIPV. Agyaman and Locario were killed last January 11 and 13, respectively.
Agyaman joined the military’s auxiliary force or the Cafgu and was feared to have been killed by rebels, while Olado, a known supporter of the New People’s Army was believed to have been killed by soldiers or their agents.
Members of the IIPV panel said violence and killngs in Arakan, which caused worry and fear in the town’s IP community, had started to intensify when President Rodrigo Duterte extended martial law in the entire Mindanao and the chief executive and the military announced that 75 to 80 percent of the members of the communist New Peoples’ Army (NPA) were Lumads.
“Ang mga patayang ito ay nagdulot ng ligalig at takot sa aming mga kumunidad. Ito ay lalong umigting noong pinalawig pa ng isang taon ang deklarasyon ng Batas Militar ng Presidente sa buong Mindanao at kapwa ipinahayag ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at ng Presidente na 75-80% ng mga kasapi ng New People’s Army ay Lumad.”
“Kami ay lubos na nabahala sa mga deklarasyong lalo na ng binansagan ni Presidente Duterte na terorista ang NPA. Ito ay naglalagay sa amin sa panganib [This declaration, especially President Duterte tagging the NPA as a terrorist group, make us very worried],” the IIPV added.
According to the IP group, the killings don’t just happen in North Cotabato but in other Mindanao provinces as well, such in Ned, Lake Sebu in South Coatabato where Datu Victor Danyan and fellow T’boli leaders were killed on December 3, 2017.
“Kami ay naiipit sa labanan ng New Peoples’ Army at ng Armed Forces of the Philippines, maging ng ibang armadong grupo at paramilitary ng mga korporasyon na pilit umaangkin sa likas na yaman na matatagpuan sa aming lupaing ninuno,” the IIPV said.
[We are caught between the war between the NPA and the AFP, as well as the fight against other armed and paramilitary groups of corporations that want to take away the natural resources that are found in our ancestral domains.]
The IIPV said the armed conflicts happening in their areas were not their war but those who suffer from these are the indigenous peoples, who only wanted to live securely and peacefully within their ancestral land without intervention from any groups.
“Ang mga armadong awayan na ito ay hindi amin ngunit pilit na ipinadama at ipanalasap sa aming mga katutubo na nagnanais na mamuhay ng matiwasay at tahimik sa loob ng aming mga lupaing ninuno ng walang pangingialam ng ninuman na grupo.”